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Credit Cards and Rental Car Insurance: What are Your Options?

The most important thing for anyone renting is making sure to have insurance to cover any of those painful accidents that can happen when on the road. We can cover all you need to know about the world of credit card insurance for vehicle and what your best options are depending on your situation.

Two Kinds of Car Rental Insurance

Secondary Coverage

On most credit cards offering rental car insurance, there are both primary and secondary options. The most common form is secondary insurance, which, as its name suggests, offers a range of benefits but only as secondary coverage to your privately bought auto insurance policy. Most policies offered by credit cards give you the option to decline some benefits, such as the collision damage waiver, as well as the loss damage waiver. Removing these two options can save you anywhere from $10-$35 dollars on your rental bill depending on the establishment. This can be great for those who already have good coverage with their private policy and are looking just to cover more bases, but be wary, as any kind of theft or damage has to be filed through your private company and the secondary insurance covers a small amount of the leftover costs.

Primary Coverage

For those looking to truly cover all their bases without having to worry about any problems that might arise from a theft or accident, primary insurance coverage is your best bet. It is the highest standard of car rental protection, and most credit cards have this option available. With primary insurance, you do not need to have your private policy, and even if you do have one, you do not need to file a claim through it, as the credit card coverage covers everything. The main benefit of choosing a primary insurance policy through your credit card is the possible significant savings on collision damage, as well as loss damage, and the ability to avoid any of those pesky premium raises that private policies tend to slap on you whenever an accident occurs.

Important Points to Remember When Using Primary Insurance

The most important thing to remember when choosing your credit card insurance is to read the details of your contract. Finding out what exactly you are covered for is paramount. Does the card include liability? Does it protect your personal property? What happens if you or someone else gets hurt during an accident? Checking to see what is covered depending on location, country, your make and model of car, as well as how long the coverage lasts is a good idea as well. Most credit card companies also require you to pay the entire bill with their card, otherwise they might not cover you, so make sure to read up on that also. All these and more are very important details to keep in mind when choosing your card.

Some of the Best Credit Cards for Secondary and Primary Coverage

With so many options out there, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which credit card is the best match for you. We have put together a list of some of the better-looking card options out there and what they are offering in terms of rewards.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: The Chase Sapphire card is a wonderful option for the weary travelers who are on the road or flying around the clock. It has a low annual fee of only $95. For those in business who tend to eat out a lot, it earns two points for every dollar spent on dining and travel, with one point given for every other dollar spent on other things. You can get up to 60,000 bonus reward points with your sign-up if you spend upwards of $4,000 within the first three months of receiving your card.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: With a $550 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a more high-end option for those looking to get big benefits. The card offers $300 in travel credit per year, premium membership access to airport lounges around the world, and triple points for any money spent on dining and travel wherever you go. There is a 50,000-point bonus if you spend over $4,000 within the first three months as well.
  • United Explorer Card: For the frequent flyers out there, the United Explorer Card has some fun benefits. Its $95 annual fee is waived in the first year, and if you use the card enough times in a year, its benefits start to add up. It gives you access to saver-level award space and allows you to check in your bag for free. Like most cards, it offers some bonus points, with people spending more than $2,000 within the first three months receiving 40,000 points.
  • American Express Platinum Card: The Platinum American Express Card has a hefty amount of benefits. Members can earn five points for every dollar with plane tickets and hotels, so frequent travelers love this card. You also get elite status with places such as Hertz, Avis, and National car rental companies, which helps lower your costs and get you access to better deals around the country. The card even allows you to transfer your points to travel partners, so it’s great for couples.
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card: The Hilton Aspire Card may be the best bang for your buck card out there for those who rent cars on the daily. It offers seven points for every dollar spent on car rental bookings. You also get premium lounge access at airports, credits towards resort stays, airlines, and a free night every year.
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express: For those looking to get a simple secondary coverage, this Amex card is one of the better choices out there. There is nothing to pay annually, and it covers up to $50,000 for replacements and repairs. It offers three points for every dollar spent on dining, travel, transportation, and even on most streaming services – very nice for the Netflix addicts out there. It offers a nice signup bonus and 0% foreign transaction fees.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: One of the best offers for those renting for business purposes, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has a host of perks. With no foreign exchange fees and a low annual cost of $95, the Ink card is very useful. If you spend $5,000 dollars within the first three months, the company offers you 80,000 bonus points, the highest bonus for any card. They give three points for every dollar spent on shipping, travel, as well as on any purchases made for advertising purposes, and they even cover any internet or phone usage. For those who tend to travel around the country by car instead of a plane, the Ink Business Cash card may be a better choice, as it gives you two percent cash back when you fill up at any gas station or restaurant.

How to Make the Best Choice

When choosing which card to go with, it is important to make an informed decision. You don’t want to get a card that offers you points for streaming services when you’re the kind of person with their nose in a book 24/7 and no use for television. On the other hand, if you and Netflix or Amazon Prime have a love affair that is an intrinsic part of your life, then getting those points for usage can be great. From travel points, to streaming, car rental, and hotel use, every card can be beneficial to everyone depending on lifestyle and where you spend most of your money per month. For those who travel a lot, opting for a card with primary insurance coverage is the safer bet.

When making your final decision, try to keep in mind these main points.

  • When going in for a rental, many car rental companies attempt to get you to buy their own coverage, regardless of what you already have, so be wary of the sales pitch and just make sure that you are aware of what you are already covered for – don’t let them trick you into dishing out more cash than you need to.
  • If you travel infrequently or simply rent a car around your home when you plan on going on a bit of a further trip outside the city, secondary insurance is probably more than enough, so long as you have your own private policy that fully covers you for any problematic scenarios.
  • On the other hand, if you are moving around a lot, especially outside your state or country, primary insurance coverage is the best bang for your buck in terms of protecting yourself from any possible outcome.
  • The main benefit to primary insurance coverage is not needing to waste your time filing a claim through your own insurance, which not only does its best not to pay out, but then raises your premiums, leading to more expenses for you long term.

Keep Your Eyes Open

When it comes to things like credit cards, there is a constant flux of old cards going out of usage and new cards popping in to steal the limelight. Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for new deals that better suit your needs. Sometimes companies put out a special offer that only stays out on the market for a month or two that can possibly save you hundreds of dollars per year due to it fitting exactly your style of travel, racking you up a ton of points that let you wander around the world in style, maybe even driving that dream car for a day or two you always wanted to try.

Remember to stay informed, and you can use the best options to improve your life and travels all year round.

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